The most irresistible storyline in politics is the comeback. Richard Nixon won the presidency in 1968 six years after California voters rejected his bid to be governor. Bill Clinton earned his famous nickname “The Comeback Kid” after the New Hampshire primary in 1992, a contest he didn’t even win. (He finished second.) More recently, Mark Sanford was censured and nearly impeached as governor of South Carolina over an adultery scandal but won back his old seat in Congress four years later.*
Yet as comebacks go, none of those guys have anything on Joseph Ganim, the once and future mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
On Tuesday, voters in the Nutmeg State’s largest city picked Ganim from a field of seven candidates for mayor. When he takes office in January, it will be 13 years since he last ran the city. He spent seven of those years in federal prison, serving a punishment for convictions on 16 felony counts of racketeering, bribery, mail fraud, conspiracy, and tax evasion. As the Hartford Courant reminded its readers on Wednesday, Ganim accepted more than half a million dollars “in cash, diamonds, expensive wine, tailored clothing, high-priced meals, and home renovations in a widespread kickback scheme that led to the convictions of 10 of his associates.” All that occurred during his first three terms as mayor. When he got out of prison, the state supreme court refused to return his law license. And yet improbably, the voters of Bridgeport took him back.